I once worked on a project which required some technical support. We met with our IT guys thinking we had an ideal solution, but inadvertently found ourselves discussing the same points over and over again. One of the guys finally blurted out, “Don’t automate a broken process.” The meeting stopped cold. In that short sentence, we realized that a new website wasn’t the answer; fixing the way the work got done was.
It’s good advice. So many times we think the right tool will make everything better. If we can only install a custom closet, it will take care of the clothes falling onto the floor. Why make hard decisions about what can stay or go if a few shelves can solve your problems? If you’re a viewer of reality home shows, you know decisions like that usually lead to calling in a professional organizer who often loves the new shelves you’ve just installed…as long as you take their advice to get rid of 80% of your stuff, too.
I’m a fan of technology. I love how I can consume books and music through digital platforms. Anywhere I go. But I’ve also learned that simply buying a new computer doesn’t clean off that pile of papers gathering dust at the edge of your desk any more than installing shelves organizes your closet. And sometimes technology can mask deeper decisions, the true decisions, which need to be made, especially as you dive into the complexities of digital specs. This week, don’t get distracted by the quick answer, no matter how cool or slick it is. Have the courage to be the one in the room to admit the real problem. In the words of former Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”